Introduction       A Confluence of        Streams and a        Flowering of         PossibilitiesAn extraordinary confluen...
The Mind’s Own Physicianencountering each other in unpredictable ways. Time will tell. And it willnot be a long time, give...
IntroductionFrancisco Varela. Since nothing in science to date actually explains thenature of our interior experience,2 it...
The Mind’s Own Physicianof the Mind and Life Institute and with the abiding interest and enthusi-astic engagement of His H...
Introductionfundamental questions of potentially profound import to the modernworld. (For a listing of all the Mind and Li...
The Mind’s Own PhysicianTHE CONTEXT OF THE 2005MEETING: MIND AND LIFE XIIIAfter the MIT meeting, which focused primarily o...
Introduction             ,-./0.123"45"-.5.-.12.6"41"8.9:;<=41">3"3.<-?"$(!@%!$!"&!!"%#!"%!!"$#!"$!!" #!"  !"       $(!"   ...
The Mind’s Own Physiciannature of our own minds, bodies, and brains and how they interact toinfluence health and disease, ...
Introductioncosponsored by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine andGeorgetown University Medical Center.     Th...
The Mind’s Own PhysicianAlan also gave a lunchtime talk establishing a broad context for under-standing meditation from th...
Introduction    THE SCIENTIFIC PARTICIPANTS     On the science side, we invited a range of presenters and panelistswho cou...
The Mind’s Own Physicianin training as a meditation teacher in the vipassana tradition. We werealso joined by David Sheps,...
Introductioncomprehensive listing of all research papers on mindfulness, including amonthly bulletin with updated listings...
The Mind’s Own PhysicianOthers include family members of the presenters, supporters and staff ofthe Mind and Life Institut...
Introduction    It was that intimacy and warmth that we hoped to capture on thestage of Constitution Hall by keeping more ...
The Mind’s Own Physicianscientists and contemplatives have shared their findings and enrichedeach other’s understanding, r...
Introductiondialogue and for their leadership in integrative medical research. I thankthe speakers and panelists for their...
The Mind’s Own Physiciandeteriorating situation convinced His Holiness to seek political asylum inIndia. From there he lea...
Introductionbeginning, and had grown extremely close to His Holiness over the years.His untimely death at the age of fifty...
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77401008 the-mind-s-own-physician-a-scientific-dialogue-with-the-dalai-lama-on-the-healing-power-of-meditation

  1. 1. Introduction A Confluence of Streams and a Flowering of PossibilitiesAn extraordinary confluence of epistemologies, or different ways of know-ing, is unfolding in the present era. Not too long ago, Gary Snyder, poet,essayist, and naturalist, evoked the image of glaciers slowly but inexorablymerging, while still maintaining some evidence of their origins in thestreaks they display: “We stand on the lateral moraine of the glacier easedalong by Newton and Descartes. The revivified Goddess Gaia glacier iscoming down another valley, from our distant pagan past, and anotherarm of ice is sliding in from another angle: the no-­ onsense meditation nview of Buddhism with its emphasis on compassion and insight in anempty universe.”1 Yet now we know, a mere two decades later, that the earth’s glaciersare literally, not metaphorically, on a rapid trajectory toward disappearingaltogether. Perhaps the metaphor was fated to become inadequate, giventhe unprecedented rate of change humanity is generating on this earth,the consequences of which we are just waking up to. It may be more apt atthis point in history to speak of the convergence of epistemologies andcultures as streams flowing rapidly together, rather than as glaciers. Thismore liquid and turbulent metaphor speaks to the many different tradi-tions, disciplines, perspectives, and technologies that are currently
  2. 2. The Mind’s Own Physicianencountering each other in unpredictable ways. Time will tell. And it willnot be a long time, given the rate at which things are unfolding. The specific convergence we are referring to here, dead-­ n explicit in oSnyder’s musing, is that of science with the contemplative traditions, andthe meditative traditions in particular. These are indeed differentepistemologies—­ ifferent ways of investigating, explaining, and ultimately dshaping human experience and our relationship to the larger world we findourselves embedded in. Never before have modern science and the con-templative traditions come together to inform each other as they are now,as witnessed by this volume and others on the Mind and Life Dialogues,documenting aspects of an even larger admixing taking place in this era.Both are ancient and venerable traditions. Both have their own recog-nized lineages, along with noteworthy milestones that illuminate withprecision and some degree of authority the hard-­ on findings of the sys- wtematic and disciplined investigations of reality by people who cared andcare deeply to understand, and who left a trail for others by documentingtheir experience and findings with maximal precision and rigor, accordingto specific methodologies and hypotheses nurtured by powerful motiva-tions akin, ultimately, to love. In the case of science, the reality in question, up to now, has beenprimarily outer directed: concern for the nature of nature and our place init, for the essence of reality and the laws governing phenomena, and moreoriented toward understanding the observed than the observer. To thisend, methods and instruments have evolved and are continually evolvingto accurately probe the nature of matter and energy, its manifestationsfrom elementary particles to the most highly complex assemblies of matterin the known-­ y-­ s universe, namely ourselves, and the undeniable sen- b utience that mysteriously emerges within complex living systems andparticularly our species—­ omo sapiens sapiens—­ nd shapes our societies H aand cultures. In the case of the contemplative traditions, the vector of inquiry andinvestigation up to now has been primarily inward directed, probing thedomain of the mind. Yet until recently, interior experience was dismissedin some academic circles as merely “subjective,” as opposed to “objective.”Now it is getting a second look as an essential and valid phenomenologicaldimension of human experience and knowing. This more balanced view,reconfigured as first-­ erson experience, is thanks in large measure to p2
  3. 3. IntroductionFrancisco Varela. Since nothing in science to date actually explains thenature of our interior experience,2 it seems prudent to at least entertainthe possibility that a systematic investigation of inner experience from thefirst-­ erson perspective has its own valid parameters as an epistemology, pand has the potential (especially coupled with third-­ erson methodolo- pgies) to contribute profoundly to a balanced and collaborative investigationof what we call the mind and human experience, including the dilemmasof suffering, greed, aggression, delusion, and ignorance, the tyranny anddangers inherent in Socrates’s “unexamined life”—­he mind that, con- ttrary to the appellation Homo sapiens sapiens, does not know itself. This isthe very much alive and relevant arena of the contemplative traditions,what might be called their “laboratory domain.” Of course, it is a heuristic conceit and a gross generalization to speakof science as outer directed and the meditative traditions as inner directed.Many fields within science are concerned with studying the nature ofmental phenomena, and contemplative wisdom does not make a distinc-tion between outer and inner, recognizing that they are different aspectsof a deeper, non-­ ual wholeness, and that the ultimate realization of any dintrospective process manifests in how one lives one’s life. Nevertheless,there has been at least the appearance of a predominantly outer-­ irected dmind-­ et and mode of investigation on the part of science and an inward sinvestigation on the part of the meditative traditions. The Mind and LifeDialogues are contributing to the examination and breaking down of suchcategories and a cross-­ertilization of ways of knowing and viable research fendeavors at the interfaces of these larger trends.3A BRIEF HISTORYIn this volume, the convergence of science and the contemplative tradi-tions is represented by the coming together of highly regarded andexperienced practitioners in both worlds to meet in conversation on thetopic “The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation.” A gatheringof this scope and magnitude would have been unthinkable ten or fifteenyears ago. Yet it came to pass in 2005, arising from an earlier and equallyunthinkable public meeting held at MIT,4 and from a stream of smallerinvitational meetings that have taken place since 1987 under the auspices 3
  4. 4. The Mind’s Own Physicianof the Mind and Life Institute and with the abiding interest and enthusi-astic engagement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is widely known that the Dalai Lama has had a lifelong passion forscience and its potential, with all its attendant limits, for contributing to adeep understanding of natural phenomena and an elucidation of thenature of things. As a consequence, he has been engaging scientists bothprivately and publicly his entire life. At first, the Mind and Life meetingstook place in private, usually at the Dalai Lama’s residence in Dharamsala,India. They were conceived as a kind of tutorial for His Holiness to famil-iarize himself with various domains of science that he was particularlyinterested in but had never had the occasion to study as part of his tradi-tional education as a Buddhist monk, especially given his unique lifesituation from the age of two as the recognized incarnation of the previousDalai Lama, and thus the titular leader of all Tibetan Buddhists as well asthe leader of the Tibetan people. However, in the early Mind and Lifemeetings, it rapidly became clear that His Holiness’s grasp of the conceptsand experiments being described to him was that of a natural-­ orn scien- btist. He was often out ahead of the explanations, asking cogent questionsand anticipating the next experiments. Moreover, it quickly became evi-dent that the scientists involved were at least as profoundly affected by thismodest Buddhist monk as he was by them. Thus, the Mind and Life Dialogues became an ongoing mutual explo-ration of some of the most profound questions facing humanity in terms ofscience, ethics, and morality, such as the nature of mind, the nature of theuniverse and our place in it, the nature of reality, and the potential for thehealing and transformation of afflictive emotions into more positive men-tal states, leading to greater health, harmony, happiness, and possibly bothinner and outer peace. Over the years, these dialogues have included psy-chologists and neuroscientists, physicians and philosophers, physicists,molecular biologists, and educators, and also contemplatives and monas-tics from various Buddhist lineages as well as other spiritual traditions.Increasingly, more Tibetan monks and nuns have joined as observers andstudents of these dialogues as a result of His Holiness’s efforts to promotea greater exposure to the modern scientific worldview within the monasticcommunity. Each meeting has resulted in a book describing the proceed-ings and capturing, in large measure and each in its own unique way, theexcitement and power of open minds in true dialogue, together exploring4
  5. 5. Introductionfundamental questions of potentially profound import to the modernworld. (For a listing of all the Mind and Life books, see the beginning ofthe book or In the 2000 meeting, described in the book Destructive Emotions,5 HisHoliness urged participants to find innovative ways to make the medita-tive practices being elucidated as effective in regulating difficult emotionsmore accessible in wholly secular contexts, since their essence is groundedin universal aspects of the human mind and heart, and thus their poten-tial benefits are not at all limited to adherents of Buddhism. Suchuniversalized approaches to the potential benefits of meditative practicesare all the more important and urgent given the prevalence of depression,anxiety, and post-­raumatic stress disorder, as well as the high levels of tstress and violence, that characterize our modern age. Around the same time, the Dalai Lama also urged the leadership of theMind and Life Institute to organize shorter public dialogues that more stu-dents, scientists, and scholars could attend, in addition to the five-­ ay more dprivate meetings that had been the traditional format in Dharamsala. Theidea was that this would allow more people to participate directly, throughtheir physical presence, in the energies of these collective inquiries, andthus perhaps be inspired to pursue new lines of research and societal appli-cations based on what was emerging from these conversations. The first public dialogue, Mind and Life XI, held September 13 and14, 2003, at MIT, was cosponsored by the McGovern Institute for BrainResearch at MIT. It was entitled “Investigating the Mind: Exchangesbetween Buddhism and Biobehavioral Science” and featured a range ofneuroscientists, psychologists, and scholars. It was documented in thebook The Dalai Lama at MIT, edited by Anne Harrington and ArthurZajonc.6 The very fact that the conference took place at MIT was itselfhistoric, a major and early public acknowledgment of the confluence ofthese diverse ways of investigating the mind and the world. The level ofengagement in the dialogue and the reflections of participants a year afterit took place give the interested reader a rich and enduring tapestry ofinformation, attitudinal perspectives, and insights from the participantsabout both the value and the limitations—­ nd even the frustrations—­ f a osuch attempts at understanding and collaboration across what can easilyseem like an unbridgeable chasm between vastly different cultures andworldviews. 5
  6. 6. The Mind’s Own PhysicianTHE CONTEXT OF THE 2005MEETING: MIND AND LIFE XIIIAfter the MIT meeting, which focused primarily on basic research ques-tions in the specific disciplines of attention and cognitive control, emotion,and mental imagery, and how these activities are expressed and regulatedin the brain, it was decided that the next public meeting (Mind and LifeXIII, to be held in 2005) should address the remarkable rise in clinicalapplications of meditation within Western medicine and psychology, andthe clinical and basic science undergirding these developments. The boardof the Mind and Life Institute, which includes the editors of the presentvolume, based this decision in part on the preponderance of questionsfrom the MIT audience concerning practical applications of meditationpractices to their personal situations and, more generally, to health-­ elated rconcerns. Unfortunately, the presenters could not address such questions,as they were not germane to the topic of the 2003 meeting. But the volumeof that kind of question did indicate a widespread interest in applicationsof meditative practices in both medicine and personal life, prompting us totake notice and respond. This book documents that second, equally historic and groundbreak-ing public meeting between His Holiness and scientists: Mind and LifeXIII, “The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation.” Its title, TheMind’s Own Physician, points to the self-­ ealing nature of the human horganism and the potential of systematic mental training to optimize thedynamical balance that is what is meant by the term “health” on multiplelevels, including the cognitive, emotional, visceral, somatic, relational,and transcendent. Much of the evidence supporting that potential waspresented at this meeting.6
  7. 7. Introduction ,-./0.123"45"-.5.-.12.6"41"8.9:;<=41">3"3.<-?"$(!@%!$!"&!!"%#!"%!!"$#!"$!!" #!" !" $(!" ($" (%" (&" ()" (#" (*" ((" (+" (" +!" +$" +%" +&" +)" +#" +*" +(" ++" +" !" $" %" &" )" #" *" (" +" " !!" !$" !%" !&" !)" !#" !*" !(" !+" !" %!$!" !"#$%Figure 1. Results obtained from a search of the term “meditation” in theabstract and key words of the ISI Web of Knowledge database on February 5,2011. The search was limited to publications with English language abstracts.Figure prepared by David S. Black, Institute for Prevention Research, KeckSchool of Medicine, University of Southern California. Figure 1 shows the rise in the number of papers on meditation pub-lished in the medical and scientific literature between 1970 and 2010.Indeed, this curve and the curve for mindfulness alone7 seem to be increas-ing exponentially at this juncture. Funding for meditation research hasincreased at a similar rate. This phenomenon was already well under wayat the time of Mind and Life XIII, in 2005. It is dramatic evidence of thespeed at which modern science is now converging with meditative prac-tices from the contemplative traditions, at this time primarily Buddhism.(More recently, Mind and Life XXII, held in New Delhi, India, inNovember 2010, expanded the dialogue to include yoga and meditativepractices from other traditions.) The increase in meditation research in recent decades is perhaps onlyone manifestation of a broadly distributive, collaborative, and highlyintentional investigation, through multiple complementary lenses, of the 7
  8. 8. The Mind’s Own Physiciannature of our own minds, bodies, and brains and how they interact toinfluence health and disease, well-­eing and suffering, happiness and bdepression, and, ultimately, our basic humanity. Its promise and importseem to lie in examining and understanding our potential for ongoingdevelopment as conscious and compassionate beings—­ur capacity to ogrow into what is deepest and best in ourselves both as individuals and asa species—­ erhaps in time to avert some of the present and potentially pimpending disasters we face as a result of being a precocious species on alimited and fragile planet. The Latin Homo sapiens sapiens means, literally, the species thatknows and knows that it knows. The species name itself captures our corecapacity for awareness and meta-­ wareness. Perhaps it is time for us to live aour way into this potential of ours as a species before it is too late. Andsince meditation has everything to do with awareness and attention andtheir refinement through practice, this itself is a major nexus of serendipi-tous convergence from which humanity may ultimately benefit by drawingupon all of its various wisdom traditions and methodologies, includingthose of both science and the contemplative traditions at their best. The 2003 meeting at MIT was held at Kresge Auditorium, filled tocapacity with twelve hundred people. Given the huge interest in the clini-cal applications of meditation, we felt it was important to hold the secondpublic meeting in an even larger venue so that more people could partici-pate through their presence and their deep listening, and through thespontaneous conversations that tend to arise within such a highly moti-vated audience outside the formal sessions. Perhaps this is one of the mostimportant and creative functions of any conference, providing informaland unstructured opportunities for communication, within which muchof the ongoing creative impact occurs, setting the stage for and often cata-lyzing the next generation of ideas and collaborations. Originally, it was hoped that the National Institutes of Health (NIH)would cosponsor the meeting and host it at its campus in Bethesda, espe-cially since it had already held a daylong symposium in March of 2004 onthe subject “Mindfulness Meditation and Health,” which had been verywell attended and engendered a great deal of enthusiasm. However, thatoption proved to be too complicated for numerous reasons, so the meetingwas held from November 8-10, 2005, in downtown Washington, DC, atConstitution Hall, which holds over three thousand people. It was8
  9. 9. Introductioncosponsored by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine andGeorgetown University Medical Center. The very fact that MIT, and then Johns Hopkins and GeorgetownUniversities aligned themselves with a world-­ enowned spiritual leader of rthe Dalai Lama’s stature in a dialogue of this kind is itself extraordinary,and an indicator of the degree to which the convergence of streams andworldviews is taking place. At the MIT meeting, Eric Lander opined thatperhaps MIT and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research were secureenough in their scientific reputations to “not fear pushing the envelope abit” in terms of the risks, real and imagined, of engaging in such a cross-­cultural dialogue.8 It is evidence that the world is indeed changing andgrowing into a recognition that we humans probably need to understandourselves as a species from multiple perspectives in order to realize our fullpotential. In a similar vein, just prior to the 2005 Mind and Life Dialogueat Constitution Hall, the Dalai Lama gave a keynote address to the annualmeeting of the Society for Neuroscience, which happened to be holding itsmeeting in Washington that same week. Over twenty-­ thousand fiveneuro­cientists attended the lecture. This was a similarly unprecedented sevent for a scientific congress. The Presenters The presenters, panelists, and session moderators for this event wereselected on the basis of their expertise and leadership in science, medicine,and the meditative traditions, and for their remarkable breadth of trainingand experience as individuals at the interfaces of different disciplines andepistemologies. Richard Davidson and Jon Kabat-­ inn, the co-­ rganizers Z oof the meeting, guided the selection with input from the Mind and Lifeboard of directors and community. THE CONTEMPLATIVE PARTICIPANTS On the contemplative side, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was the cat-alyst for the meeting and a critical participant in all sessions, except for theinterlude between sessions 3 and 4, as were his interpreters, Thupten Jinpa,PhD, and Alan Wallace, PhD. During the interlude on the second day, 9
  10. 10. The Mind’s Own PhysicianAlan also gave a lunchtime talk establishing a broad context for under-standing meditation from the contemplative perspective. Jinpa was amonk for many years before returning to lay life as a husband, father, andexponent of translating important Tibetan texts into modern languages.After leaving the monkhood, he received his PhD from CambridgeUniversity in religious studies. Alan Wallace was also a monk for manyyears and a student of His Holiness, as well as many other Tibetan Buddhistteachers. He trained in physics and philosophy and has written prolificallyon science, Buddhism, and Buddhist meditation practices. He received hisPhD from Stanford University in religious studies. Father Thomas Keating contributed his good nature and his experi-ence and perspective from the Christian monastic Cistercian Order and asa principal in pioneering the development of the modern movement ofcentering prayer. Ajahn Amaro represented the Theravada Thai forestmonastic tradition, and Matthieu Ricard (along with His Holiness and histranslators) represented the Tibetan Buddhist monastic tradition.Interestingly, both Ajahn Amaro and Matthieu had an early foundation inWestern science, Ajahn Amaro receiving a BS in psychology and physiol-ogy from the University of London, and Matthieu a PhD in cellulargenetics from the Pasteur Institute with Nobel laureate François Jacob. Also contributing to the dialogue from the contemplative side wereSharon Salzberg, representing the vipassana tradition in the West, whoalso guided the audience in a meditation on loving-­ indness; Jan Chozen kBays, MD, both a Zen roshi and a pediatrician with expertise in childabuse and addictions; Joan Halifax, PhD, also a Zen roshi with a widebackground in medical anthropology and psychology; and Jack Kornfield,PhD, formerly a monk in the Thai forest tradition and a vipassana teacherand psychologist. From even this cursory synopsis, it is apparent how varied and multi-faceted the backgrounds and meditative training of this group ofcontemplatives have been. It could be said that each one, through his orher unique life trajectory and commitments, represents the larger conflu-ence of streams that the meeting itself embodied. All were well equippedto engage in the collective inquiry and dialogue, present their own per-spectives on the subject at hand, and consider critically the various linesof evidence and argument presented by the scientists.10
  11. 11. Introduction THE SCIENTIFIC PARTICIPANTS On the science side, we invited a range of presenters and panelistswho could help us explore the potential implications of some of the mostrecent basic science that provides a framework for understanding the pos-sible mechanisms through which meditation might exert its various effects.We also looked to these participants to help us examine clinical researchfindings on the applications of meditation for specific physical and psychi-atric illnesses. Robert Sapolsky, PhD, of Stanford University, was there to discuss hispioneering work on stress and disease at the neuronal and gene expressionlevels. Wolf Singer, MD, PhD, of the Max Planck Institute for BrainResearch in Frankfurt, presented his work on distributive cortical process-ing of percepts and the phenomenon of synchronization of gamma wavesin the brain, and their possible relationship to meditative practices andstates of mind. Zindel Segal, PhD, from the Centre for Addiction andMental Health at the University of Toronto and one of the founders ofmindfulness-­ ased cognitive therapy, presented on preventing relapse in bpeople with a history of major depressive disorder. Helen Mayberg, MD, ofthe Emory University School of Medicine, whose work with neuroimaginghas elucidated neural pathways that may play a role in major depression,addressed a variety of treatment approaches, from medications and cogni-tive behavioral therapy to direct modulation of specific circuits usingdeep-­ rain stimulation. John Sheridan, PhD, from Ohio State University, bbrought expertise on the effects of stress on the hypothalamic-­ ituitary-­ padrenal axis, as well as interactions between brain, body, behavior, and theimmune system. Margaret Kemeny, PhD, of the University of California,San Francisco, offered her perspective on possible links between psychoso-cial factors, the immune system, and health and illness. Esther Sternberg,MD, of the NIH, provided her expertise on mechanisms of neuroimmunemodulation and mind/body interactions in relationship to stress, disease,and health. Other participants from the science side included John Teasdale, PhD,an expert on the modeling of information-­ ased pathways for emotional bexpression in the brain and central nervous system, and a cofounder ofmindfulness-­ ased cognitive therapy for depression (with Zindel Segal and bMark Williams). At the time of the meeting, John had retired fromCambridge University, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, and was 11
  12. 12. The Mind’s Own Physicianin training as a meditation teacher in the vipassana tradition. We werealso joined by David Sheps, MD, of the Emory University School ofMedicine, an expert on mental stress–­nduced ischemia in cardiovascular idisease and mortality, and at the time editor in chief of the journalPsychosomatic Medicine; biochemist Bennett Shapiro, MD, former vicepresident of Merck Research Laboratories, an expert in the molecularregulation of cellular behavior, and a member of the board of the Mindand Life Institute; and Ralph Snyderman, MD, chancellor emeritus of theDuke University School of Medicine, a rheumatologist by training and aleading figure in health care reform and integrative medicine. The scientific complement of our meeting included its co-convenorsand the editors of this volume, Jon Kabat-­ inn, PhD, the developer of Zmindfulness-­ ased stress reduction from the University of Massachusetts bMedical School, and Richard J. Davidson, PhD, of the University ofWisconsin, a founder of the field of affective neuroscience and the nascentfield of contemplative neuroscience, both also board members of the Mindand Life Institute.THE STATE OF THE SCIENCE:2005 TO 2011The closing chapter of this book will summarize some of the exciting newdevelopments that have taken place in the science and clinical applica-tions of meditation in the intervening years. In 2005, the field was stillyoung. Six years later, we could say that that is still very much the case. Yetso much more work is now being done in the field as meditation in generaland mindfulness-­ ased interventions specifically become recognized lines bof research and authentic career-­ uilding trajectories for young clinicians band basic scientists. Because of the rate at which the field is advancing(illustrated by figure 1), almost twice as many papers were published in2010 as in 2005. Thus, the 2005 meeting both took a reading of the statusof the field at that time and helped define some of the promise that seemsto have propelled it forward. Since the time of the meeting, a new professional journal calledMindfulness has appeared (2010), as well as a website that offers a12
  13. 13. Introductioncomprehensive listing of all research papers on mindfulness, including amonthly bulletin with updated listings (Mindfulness Research Monthly; Moreover, several premierjournals have devoted either special issues or special sections to mindful-ness (for example, Emotion in 2010,9 Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2009,10and Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy in 200911), and it is likely that moreare in the pipeline. Of considerable note is that one of the professionaljournals that has devoted a special issue to the topic of mindfulness isn’t ascientific publication at all but a journal dedicated primarily to Buddhistscholarship in the modern context: Contemporary Buddhism. The journal’seditor in chief invited Mark Williams of Oxford University and Jon Kabat-­Zinn of the University of Massachusetts Medical School to be guest editorsof the issue, published in July of 2011,12 which is structured explicitly toencourage a cross-­ iscipline conversation among Buddhist scholars, clini- dcians, and scientists on topics related to mindfulness as it moves increasinglyinto mainstream secular settings and applications. Among other topics, itaddresses the question of definitions of mindfulness and issues related tothe fidelity of modern mindfulness-based interventions to the originalteachings as documented in early Buddhist texts and those of later schoolsas Buddhism spread from India and Southeast Asia into China, Tibet,Korea, and Japan over the first millennium following the Buddha’s death.Such an improbable scholarly conversation across widely divergent disci-plines is highly indicative of the degree to which the confluence of streamshas already occurred, and speaks to its multidirectional nature.A COZY SETTINGAt Mind and Life XIII, in Washington, DC, our intention was to replicateonstage, to whatever degree possible given the large audience, the cozyand friendly environment of the private meetings that take place in HisHoliness’s compound in McLeod Ganj, Upper Dharamsala, India, a lovelyhill station town perched under the towering snowcapped foothills of theHimalayas. Although private, those meetings always include a number of observ-ers in addition to the presenters. Some are contemplatives, includingmonastics enrolled in a program called the Science for Monks project. 13
  14. 14. The Mind’s Own PhysicianOthers include family members of the presenters, supporters and staff ofthe Mind and Life Institute, His Holiness’s personal guests, and the occa-sional journalist. The physical arrangement is always the same. His Holiness sits, usu-ally cross-­egged, in a big chair in the center, with the moderator and the lvarious presenters and panelists for that session to his right and left arounda low table. Immediately on his left are his two translators, so they canhuddle together with His Holiness when the need to consult about themeaning of a particular term or the drift of an argument requires a tempo-rary halt to the proceedings. His Holiness sometimes speaks in Englishand sometimes in Tibetan. Sometimes he begins in one language andtransitions to the other. His English is very good, and he can follow com-plex scientific arguments if the presenter avoids the jargon that specialistscan so easily fall into. Often he interrupts to ask the presenter a questionor confer with his translators. When he chooses to speak in Tibetan,Thupten Jinpa then conveys in English what he said. (In this book, thetranslated speeches are represented as His Holiness’s own words, withoutnoting Thupten Jinpa’s role except where he contributes to the discussionin his own voice.) For the presenters onstage and for the audience, it is an interestingdance, especially if one does not know Tibetan. It is helpful to simply restin the present moment, rather than busying oneself with thoughts. It is ameditation in its own right to stay present and not become impatient ordistracted at those times, because in the very next moment, the conversa-tion is likely to be taken up once again or turn to an important point thatneeds clarification from the presenter so that His Holiness and others canunderstand what is being suggested or demonstrated. Immediately to the Dalai Lama’s right is the chair that each presenteroccupies for his or her presentation. That way, the presenter is right nextto the Dalai Lama and is able to speak directly to him in a way that resem-bles an intimate conversation rather than a formal lecture. Frequent eyecontact and laughter between His Holiness and the presenter often punc-tuate these conversations. It is a very intimate setting in which bothgoodwill and deep engagement in the question at hand tend to spreadrapidly to include all the other participants in that session, as well as theobservers in the room.14
  15. 15. Introduction It was that intimacy and warmth that we hoped to capture on thestage of Constitution Hall by keeping more or less the same format, in asense replicating His Holiness’s living room in front of three thousandpeople. Some of the photographs included in this volume convey the cozyatmosphere of this setting. Large video screens on either side of the stageensured that the speakers would be visible from the back of the hall, inhopes that even in such a large group each individual would feel a vitalpart of the conversation, a true colleague and participant in his or her ownright. To that end, on a number of occasions Richie and Jon, as cohosts,invited audience members to reflect on how essential they were to thismeeting, in ways both known and unknown at that moment in time. Theirpresence, their deep listening, their questions, and, most of all, their moti-vation and unique reasons for being there might encourage them to probemore deeply into their own hunches or assumptions, and perhaps open upnew possibilities for research or clinical applications in their areas of inter-est and expertise. The audience had been selected through a web-­ ased bapplication process that favored clinicians, researchers, scholars, and stu-dents in the biological and neurosciences, including medical and graduatestudents—­ n ideal audience to make the maximal impact on a nascent aand rapidly growing field.THE MEETING GETS UNDER WAY Adam Engle, cofounder with Francisco Varela of the Mind and Life Institute, and its president and CEO, opens the meeting with welcom- ing remarks.Adam Engle: Your Holiness, Father Thomas, President DeGioia, DeanMiller, distinguished scientists, clinicians, and brothers and sisters, eigh-teen years ago the Dalai Lama, Francisco Varela, and I embarked upon anexperiment to see if we could create a methodology whereby scientists,philosophers, and Buddhist contemplatives could come together in a jointquest for a more complete understanding of the nature of reality, for inves-tigating the mind, and for promoting well-­ eing on the planet. Since 1987, bthe Mind and Life Dialogues have covered many topics upon which 15
  16. 16. The Mind’s Own Physicianscientists and contemplatives have shared their findings and enrichedeach other’s understanding, ranging from physics and cosmology to neuro-plasticity, and from healing emotions to altruism and ethics. Today we take another step forward on this journey. On behalf of theDalai Lama and the other members of the board of the Mind and LifeInstitute, I welcome you all to Mind and Life XIII, “The Science andClinical Applications of Meditation.” The topic for this meeting comes from the recognition that our workat the Mind and Life Institute is no longer limited to dialogue and under-standing. More important is the need to translate these understandingsinto programs, interventions, and tools that will bring tangible benefitinto peoples’ lives. Hence, we have begun to ask very practical questions:How do we nurture and maintain healthy minds? How can we cultivatemore emotional balance in our lives and in our societies? And how can weteach these self-­ anagement skills earlier in life? m Currently the Mind and Life Institute operates through four divisions,all working together to promote scientific understanding and individualand cultural well-­ eing. Our Mind and Life Dialogues with the Dalai bLama set the scientific agenda by exploring which areas of science aremost ripe for collaboration with contemplatives and how that collabora-tion can be implemented most effectively. Our Mind and Life publicationsreport to the greater scientific community and the interested public onwhat has occurred in our dialogues. Our Mind and Life Summer ResearchInstitute is an annual, weeklong residential symposium retreat for research-ers and practitioners of science, contemplation, and philosophy to explorehow to advance the hypotheses formulated at the Mind and Life Dialoguesand the Institute’s research initiatives. Our Mind and Life research grantprogram provides seed research grants to investigate the hypotheses thusformulated and explored. In the short time we have together over the next two and a half days,we will only begin to explore how we can more skillfully use the tech-niques of meditation and other forms of mental training in clinicalapplications to improve health and well-­ eing. It is our deepest desire that byou—­both the audience and the participants—­become inspired to exploreand expand this frontier in your own lives and work. I thank the Georgetown University Medical Center and the JohnsHopkins University School of Medicine for joining us in sponsoring this16
  17. 17. Introductiondialogue and for their leadership in integrative medical research. I thankthe speakers and panelists for their wisdom, kindness, and insight, and themany days of preparation they have devoted to make this symposium ben-eficial. I thank our sustaining patrons and our gold and silver sponsors,who provided financial support to make this meeting possible. Mostimportantly, I thank each and every one of you for your interest and open-ness in joining this exploration. Adam then invites both Edward Miller, MD, dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, to make opening remarks. Each cites his institution’s commitment to the new field of integrative medicine and speak to the role that scientific evidence plays in providing a founda- tion for the development of new treatment approaches to patient care, including the increasingly prevalent meditation-­ased approaches. b President DeGioia then introduces His Holiness.John DeGioia: It is my great privilege this morning to introduce the Mindand Life Institute’s honorary chairman and continuing inspiration, HisHoliness the Dalai Lama. One can hardly imagine a more extraordinarylife than that of the gentleman we are about to meet. He was born on amodest farm in the mountains of Tibet. In this remote nation a distinctiveform of Buddhism has developed, along with the belief that the Buddha isreincarnated as the Dalai Lama in order to lead others to enlightenment,and to serve as the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet. After the death of the thirteenth Dalai Lama in 1933, a group of holymen began a secret search for the next Dalai Lama. In time that searchbrought them to a peasant family with a precocious two-­ear-­ ld boy. y oBased on a variety of tests, the holy men determined that this youngsterwas the fourteenth Dalai Lama. Like his predecessors for centuries beforehim, the child and his family were taken to the capital city, where crowdscheered his arrival. At the age of six he was enthroned as the spiritualleader of his people and took the name Tenzin Gyatso. He lived in thePotala Palace, its thousand rooms a source of endless fascination for a curi-ous boy. At age sixteen, two years ahead of schedule, the Dalai Lama assumedfull control of Tibet after his nation was invaded by the Chinese army. Fornine years he worked to negotiate a peaceful resolution, but in 1959 a 17
  18. 18. The Mind’s Own Physiciandeteriorating situation convinced His Holiness to seek political asylum inIndia. From there he leads the Tibetan government in exile and more than120,000 Tibetans who are living as exiles. He established schools and heri-tage centers to keep Tibetan culture alive and reformed the government inexile along democratic lines. For decades the Dalai Lama has traveled the world to seek support forhis proposals to bring a nonviolent solution to the situation in Tibet. He’sbeen an eloquent voice for human rights and world peace, and the world’sforemost exponent of Buddhist philosophy. In 1989, he received the NobelPeace Prize for his advocacy on behalf of his homeland. It is an extraordinary life, to be sure, but today we see another aspectof this remarkable man. The Dalai Lama’s early education was extensivein many areas, but he was not exposed to math, physics, biology, or othersciences. Yet he was an inquisitive child who was fascinated by severalmechanical objects that he found in the palace. In time and with travel,his interests broadened to include all aspects of science and the scientificform of inquiry. He has taken the opportunity to get to know some of themost distinguished scientists of our time, to discuss progress in scientificthinking, and to explore the interface between faith and science. Heshares many of his insights in his new book, The Universe in a Single Atom:The Convergence of Science and Spirituality.13 Today the Dalai Lama stands at the forefront of the dialogue betweenscience and spirituality. The conversation, he believes, has enormouspotential to help the human family meet unprecedented global challenges.Please join me this morning in welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Thus begins the three days of presentations and dialogue. We hope that the meeting will come alive for you, the reader, as you explore these presentations. We hope that in one way or another, because of the give-­ nd-­ake and the somewhat informal nature of the talks and a t conversations, you will be transported into the room and feel the energy of the presentations as they unfold and engender dialogue among the presenters, panelists, and His Holiness. Before His Holiness rose to make his opening remarks from thepodium, Adam Engle put up a photograph of our dear friend and colleagueFrancisco Varela (1946–­ 001). Francisco had been the guiding scientific 2light and inspiration of the Mind and Life Institute from its very18
  19. 19. Introductionbeginning, and had grown extremely close to His Holiness over the years.His untimely death at the age of fifty-­ ive was a huge loss for the Mind and fLife community. That loss was felt and shared by all who knew this remark-able polymath of a human being, with his incredible intellect and equallyincredible heart. Francisco was a deep and devoted Buddhist practitionerand a student of some of the greatest Tibetan lamas of the day. We wereuplifted, however, by the continuing unfolding and evolution of his visionand legacy at the Mind and Life Institute, as well by as the enduringimprint of his research and writings on the world. We dedicated the meet-ing to his memory. 19